While she knew of Lansford’s abilities as a teacher, she was not immediately familiar with her skill as a musician. But after seeing her perform and witnessing her talent, she asked Lansford why she didn’t do music full-time.
“I asked her that day after she performed, ‘Why do you put up with school? Why don’t you just do this?’ She said, ‘Because teaching people to read is a noble thing to do.’”
But that music was always in the background, too. Lansford began her musical journey as a pianist, but her skill ultimately found a home in old-time music. Before Jim Lansford’s death in 2012, they were long a package deal, performing throughout the region and beyond, even traveling to Japan in 2000 as part of a musical exchange with Isesaki, a sister city of Springfield.
At her memorial, hard, black cases were lined up on the floor at the ready before their latches were opened, instruments taken in hand and used to play tunes that live and bring life. In one corner of the room, several of Lansford’s own instruments sat in a silent auction, their proceeds set to benefit the scholarship fund in her name.
“I take comfort that she and Jim are back together,” said Gerschefske. “They were a special team and my prayer is that they’re playing music together right now for those that have gone before.”
By Kaitlyn McConnell, writer in residence at the Community Foundation of the Ozarks
Read more from Annual Report FY23